Juan Soto homered in his first at bat tonight, which was just his second at bat in the majors, sending a 422 ft blast out to left and to the back of the visitor’s bullpen in Nationals Park.
Soto’s blast was a three-run, opposite field homer. Mark Reynolds homered twice, hitting his 3rd and 4th HRs in six games with Nationals. Bryce Harper homered for the 6th time in May and the 14th time this season. Gio Gonzalez gave up two hits and two runs in seven innings.
Washington beat the San Diego Padres, 10-2, to end a three-game losing streak. Good times in the nation’s capital tonight.
Gio vs San Diego: Gio Gonzalez needed 110 pitches to get through six innings against the Padres earlier this month in Petco Park, but he held San Diego hitters to just a run on five hits, walking three and striking out eight in what ended up a 2-1 win for the Nationals that time out.
“I worked my pitch count up because I wasn’t being aggressive in the strike zone,” Gonzalez told reporters after that game.
Going into tonight’s matchup with the Padres in Nationals Park, the 32-year-old lefty was unbeaten in four starts, with a 1.57 ERA, 11 walks, 26 Ks, and a .224/.306/.341 line against over 23 innings in that stretch.
Gonzalez, who had a 6-0 lead to work with after two and a half tonight, issued a one-out walk and gave up a two-run home run in the next at bat in the Padres’ third, with Franmil Reyes taking the Nats’ lefty deep to right for his first major league home run, 6-2.
Gonzalez was up to 97 pitches after working around a walk in a 25-pitch sixth inning, and took the mound with a 9-2 lead in the seventh, and retired the side in order in a 14-pitch frame.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 111 P, 68 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
Erlin in Washington: Robbie Erlin got the nod for the series opener with the Nats in D.C. in part because Washington’s hitters have struggled against left-handers this season, with a combined .220/.304/.356 line against lefties in 2018, which had them 12th/12th/13th among NL teams so far this season.
In 14 games (and one start) before tonight, the 27-year-old southpaw had a 3.46 ERA, a 2.25 FIP, four walks (1.38 BB/9), 24 Ks (8.31 K/9), and a .240/.267/.344 line against in 26 IP.
Erlin tossed a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first, but the Nationals connected for four straight hits in the second, a single by Mark Reynolds, double by Pedro Severino, a three-run home run by Juan Soto (his first in the majors, in his second at bat), and a single by Wilmer Difo. 3-0.
Two outs later, Trea Turner hit an RBI double to right to bring Difo in, 4-0, and Bryce Harper drove Turner in with another RBI double, 5-0.
Mark Reynolds started the Nationals’ third with their second home run off Erlin, taking a 1-0 fastball for a ride to left field, 6-0. Reynolds’ 3rd of 2018.
Robbie Erlin’s Line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HRs, 56 P, 38 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Soto’s first start: The message from both Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez and Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo on Sunday was that Juan Soto is here to play. He didn’t start in the first game to be played after he was promoted to the majors, but the plan was for the 19-year-old slugger to bring his impressive skill set to the nation’s capital in the hope he’d provide some sort of spark to a scuffling offense.
“We’ve got ourselves a young player that is extremely talented,” Rizzo told reporters in an interview on Sunday.
“You always have to balance the upside of bringing him to the big leagues, improving your big league club, and his development,” the GM explained, “and we think that he’s ready to take the next step and the next challenge.”
In Soto’s first start tonight and second at bat in the majors, he stepped up with runners on second and third after a single by Mark Reynolds and a double to left by Pedro Severino, and hit a first-pitch fastball from Robbie Erlin to left for a three-run, opposite field homer, 3-0. Soto’s first MLB home run. Get out of here! SOTO!!!!:
Juan Soto's first MLB start.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 21, 2018
Juan Soto's first MLB hit.
Juan Soto's first MLB HR.
Juan Soto's first MLB RBI ... and second MLB RBI ... and third MLB RBI. pic.twitter.com/WZROZwD89c
Soto’s second major league hit was a single to center on an 0-1 pitch from Padres’ righty Bryan Mitchell in the sixth. 2 for 3, HR, single. He ended the night.
BULLPEN ACTION: Bryan Mitchell took over on the mound for the Padres in the fifth inning, and promptly surrendered an opposite field home run by Bryce Harper, who hit a 96 mph 3-1 heater out the other way for his 14th of 2018 and a 7-2 lead.
Juan Soto singled and scored on a triple to right by Michael A. Taylor in the sixth to put the Nationals up, 8-2, and Taylor scored on an RBI double to center by Trea Turner, 9-2.
Mark Reynolds’ second blast of the night started the bottom of the seventh, when he hit a hanging curve from Mitchell out to left. No. 4 of 2018. 10-2 Nationals.
Tim Collins, who was called up today, took over on the mound for Gio Gonzalez in the top of the eighth, and, in his first major league inning since 2014, he worked around a two-out hit for a scoreless, 16-pitch frame. Still 10-2 Nationals.
Carlos Torres got the ninth for the Nats and worked around a single for a scoreless frame.
Final Score: 10-2 Nationals
Nationals now 25-21